Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology

, Volume 100, Issue 12, pp 5215–5229 | Cite as

Burkholderia: an update on taxonomy and biotechnological potential as antibiotic producers

  • Eliza Depoorter
  • Matt J. Bull
  • Charlotte Peeters
  • Tom Coenye
  • Peter VandammeEmail author
  • Eshwar MahenthiralingamEmail author


Burkholderia is an incredibly diverse and versatile Gram-negative genus, within which over 80 species have been formally named and multiple other genotypic groups likely represent new species. Phylogenetic analysis based on the 16S rRNA gene sequence and core genome ribosomal multilocus sequence typing analysis indicates the presence of at least three major clades within the genus. Biotechnologically, Burkholderia are well-known for their bioremediation and biopesticidal properties. Within this review, we explore the ability of Burkholderia to synthesise a wide range of antimicrobial compounds ranging from historically characterised antifungals to recently described antibacterial antibiotics with activity against multiresistant clinical pathogens. The production of multiple Burkholderia antibiotics is controlled by quorum sensing and examples of quorum sensing pathways found across the genus are discussed. The capacity for antibiotic biosynthesis and secondary metabolism encoded within Burkholderia genomes is also evaluated. Overall, Burkholderia demonstrate significant biotechnological potential as a source of novel antibiotics and bioactive secondary metabolites.


Burkholderia Taxonomy Phylogeny Genomics Antibiotic biosynthesis Secondary metabolism 



MB acknowledges funding from the Cardiff University Synthetic Biology initiative. CP is indebted to the Special Research Council of Ghent University. TC acknowledges funding from the Fund for Scientific Research-Flanders and the Interuniversity Attraction Poles Programme initiated by the Belgian Science Policy Office. EM is a recipient of funding from the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (Grant BB/L021692/1). PV and TC acknowledge funding from the Industrial Research Fund of Ghent University (Grant F2015/IOF-ConcepTT/142).

Compliance with ethical standards

Ethical approval

This article does not contain any studies with human participants or animals performed by any of the authors.

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Eliza Depoorter
    • 1
    • 2
  • Matt J. Bull
    • 3
  • Charlotte Peeters
    • 1
  • Tom Coenye
    • 2
  • Peter Vandamme
    • 1
    Email author
  • Eshwar Mahenthiralingam
    • 3
    Email author
  1. 1.Laboratory of MicrobiologyGhent UniversityGhentBelgium
  2. 2.Laboratory of Pharmaceutical MicrobiologyGhent UniversityGhentBelgium
  3. 3.Organisms and Environment Division, Cardiff School of BiosciencesCardiff UniversityCardiffUK

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